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Welcome to Julie Billiart Schools, a family of K-8 coeducational, independent day schools for children with learning differences.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

By JJ Schweikert, MOT, OTR/L

What are possible symptoms of too much screen time? Blurry eyes, a muddled mind, difficulty with focus, trouble stopping the screens and behaviors when asked to stop. How do screens really impact our children? How much screen time is too much? Referenced below is what the research tells us about screens, and what evidence we have on the symptoms of screen use in children and teenagers.

Symptoms of Too Much Screen Time

Average Screen Time

Children today are using screens more and more. Whether it’s online learning, entertainment apps and games, watching videos, or playing with friends, screens are a part of our kids’ daily lives. Children today have online learning, internet-based supplemental activities, learning apps, and screen-based reading on phones and tablets.

With the sudden onset of distance learning and telehealth, kids are on screens, tablets, phones, and computers more now than ever before. Online classroom lessons and therapy sessions are just one more reason for more screen hours.

“Play” is often screen-based: interactive video games with friends, gaming apps, messaging, and videos is done for entertainment. Children and families are tied to devices to manage the home and activity schedules and to communicate with coworkers, friends, family, teachers, and coaches.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that children ages eight to 10 spend an average of six hours per day in front of a screen, kids ages 11 to 14 spend an average of nine hours per day in front of a screen, and youth ages 15 to 18 spend an average of seven-and-a-half hours per day in front of a screen.

According to the one study, children aged 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day. When you think about requirements for distance learning, video entertainment, communicating with friends and family, app usage, that number begins to make sense. All of the screen time throughout the day and evening hours adds up quickly.

According to the World Health Organization, over 23% of adults and 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active. Children are spending more time in sedentary activity by using screens and less time in creative, active play that their bodies need to thrive and develop.

We also know that children under a certain age should not have access to screens. Children need more active play and creative play that involves the senses. We know that our children need these things to regulate emotions, behaviors, and to give their nervous systems what they need to learn and develop.

Symptoms of Too Much Screen Time

The effects of screen time on children is showing up in the research. We are seeing astonishing symptoms of screen time in so many ways. These are just some of the symptoms and signs of screen overload:

  • Impact on physical health
  • Behavior Issues
  • Poor posture
  • Poor core strength
  • Poor fine motor skills
  • Increased frustration
  • Impulsivity
  • Moodiness
  • Poor ability to handle stress
  • Poor endurance
  • Mental health issues
  • Impact on emotional health
  • Decreased attention
  • Decreased cognitive skills
  • Overactive brain
  • Poor ability to transition
  • Addiction “state of being”
  • Less self-control

Here is a list of possible side effects of to much screen time:

  • Less family interaction
  • More frustration
  • More stress
  • Poor ability to transition between tasks (stopping screen play and moving to a different task)
  • Less creative play
  • Less imagination play
  • Less opportunities for communication and interaction
  • Wanting more and more screen time
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor motivation
  • More distracted
  • Posture issues
  • Difficulty with pinch and grip strength and dexterity
  • Eye tracking and shift difficulties

This does not mean that we need to completely take screens away from our children. We need to try offer balance, and the activities their nervous systems need to empower sensory and regulation so learning, emotions, behaviors, and mental well-being flourishes.

A child needs balance. They need play to help develop their brains and create new neural connections in the brain. They need creative activities to build self-confidence, emotional well-being, and strategies to cope.

References/resources: Colleen Beck, June 2020, The OT Tool Box

open-quote I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words how grateful I am that you saw my daughter for all that she is today and all that she is yet to become. close-quote

Tammie Sommer

open-quote Julie Billiart Schools has helped my child become a better version of himself. The teachers and therapists at JB really know and understand how to reach children who learn differently. close-quote

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open-quote All of the teachers and staff at JB are patient and willing to take the extra time to make sure we, as parents, understand and are comfortable. close-quote

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open-quote Julie Billiart Schools gave us hope after our daughter was diagnosed with a learning disability. At JB, she thrived in the small classes, received necessary therapies, and developed the self-confidence to ask for help when she needed it. close-quote

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open-quote They have all the resources necessary, specialized to the individual learning of each child, and the heart that goes with it. I don't think we would have stayed in Ohio if it wasn't for JB! close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote My kids love everything about JB and look forward to going to school every day and seeing their friends and teachers. JB is truly a one of a kind school enriching young lives everyday. close-quote

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